Looking for a way to invest your money without a huge amount of capital or stock market knowledge? If so, the Acorns investing platform is definitely worth checking out. In addition to appealing to folks who may not be all that financially literate, the service offers a number of different options that allow its users to invest rather effortlessly. From educating its members to helping them grow “mighty oaks” from small initial investments, Acorns offers a thorough, accessible experience.
With this in mind, we’re breaking down what Acorns and its app has to offer, the pros and cons of the service, and how to get started on the platform in less than five minutes.
“From Acorns, Mighty Oaks Do Grow”
Acorns’ catchphrase pretty much sums up its entire premise: by investing small amounts of money on a regular basis, you can grow a sizable return in the long run. As such, Acorns offers three distinct account options, all of which provide various features. So, let’s break down each of these features.
The most basic of all of Acorns’ offerings is its “Invest” feature, which allows you to link your account to the debit card of your choice. Each time you make a purchase, Acorns will automatically round it up to the nearest dollar and invest the change for you in a diversified portfolio.How does this work? In one example, if you spend $5.75, Acorns will round up your purchase to $6.00, pull the extra 25 cents from your banking account, and invest it for you. Your investments go into a portfolio of stocks, bonds, and ETFs that Acorns selects for you based on your answers to a series of questions aimed at generating your preferred investing style.
This option is a great way to start saving for retirement, even if you don’t have a 401(k). The Later feature lets you open an IRA account and then regularly updates it automatically based on your unique goals. You can then fund your IRA either with recurring automatic deposits (of as little as $5) or by manually making deposits at any time.
This option allows you to use the Acorns investing app and/or Acorns online platform to open personal checking, investment, and retirement accounts all in one place. Checking accounts include a metal debit card, all-digital banking features, direct deposit, mobile check deposit, check sending, and more. You’ll also enjoy access to built-in smart deposits and instant spare change investing, as well as access to over 55,000 fee-free worldwide ATMs.
This feature makes it easy for you to help your kids get a head start in investing. With the Early feature, you can open a UTMA / UGMA account for your child or for multiple children. Unlike a traditional 529 account that can only be used for your child’s education, a UTMA / UGMA can be used for anything that benefits the child. Once your child reaches the “age of transfer,” the funds can be easily transferred over to them. You’ll enjoy features like automatic investing, as well as family-friendly financial literacy resources.
What Type of Account Should I Select?
As mentioned above, Acorns offers three different types of accounts, each with different features and pricing. Currently, you can choose from:
Lite ($1 per month):
- An “Invest” investing account
- Spare change round-up options
- Earn found-Money bonuses from Acorn Partners
- Financial education articles
Personal ($3 per month):
- An “Invest” investing account and all other features of “Lite” plan
- Later retirement account
- Spend checking account
- No-fee checking and access to 55,000+ free ATMs
- Built-in auto-investing options
Family ($5 per month):
- Invest, Later, and Spend accounts
- All included features of “Lite” and “Personal”
- Early investment accounts for kids
- Open accounts for multiple children at no added cost
- Auto-investment options
- Exclusive bonus investment
- Family financial advise
- Potential tax-saving advantages
To get started, simply head over to Acorns‘ website or download the app to your smartphone. From there, Acorns will guide you through an easy, step-by-step account creation process that only takes a few minutes to complete.
Additional Perks of Investing Through Acorns
Aside from offering features that make hands-free investing effortless, Acorns offers several other advantages. The first is that you can download the Acorns investing app directly to your smartphone and enjoy access to your account information at any time.
And then there’s the Acorns “Earn” feature, which allows you to earn more money in a variety of ways. Opportunities to earn include:
- Found Money: When you use the debit card linked to your Acorns account, you can earn money by shopping with one of Acorns’ plethora of partner brands. You can even use this feature for online shopping by downloading the handy Acorns Earn Chrome Extension.
- Jobs: Given that Acorns is all about financial wellness, the platform recently released a new job finder to help members find full-time, part-time, and remote job opportunities.
- Referrals: Use your referral link to invite friends to join Acorns. You and each friend who successfully opens an account will each earn $5.
Last but not least, Acorns offers an impressive financial education section that can help you learn about anything from the stock market to retirement accounts. You can also check out Acorns’ digital magazine Grow, which the company developed through a partnership with CNBC.
Cons of Investing With Acorns
Nobody’s perfect, right? As with any service, there are a few potential downsides to investing with Acorns. The most glaring is that they utilize a flat-fee pricing structure which could be either a good or bad thing, depending on the size of your account.
If you only plan to invest small amounts each year through either spare change or low recurring investments, the monthly account fees can start to add up pretty quickly.
Say, for instance, that you only plan to invest $100 over the course of a year. At the end of the year, your fees will add up to:
- Lite: 12% of total invested
- Personal: 36% of total invested
- Family: 60% of total invested
Let’s take a look at where you’d come out if your account balance was instead $10,000. At the end of the year, your fees would add up to:
- Lite: 0.12% of total invested
- Personal: 0.36% of total invested
- Family: 0.60% of total invested
Whether you win or lose largely depends on your account size. If you find yourself on the losing end of the bargain, you may be better off checking out competitors such as Wealthfront or Betterment that operate on a percentage of assets fees of around 0.25% per year.
You should also be aware that if you decide to switch to another service, Acorns transfer fees can be steep at $50 per ETF. You may be better off simply selling your investments, transferring the cash to your bank, and reopening a new account with the balance, though you’ll also need to take capital gains taxes into consideration.